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Orlando City coach James O’Connor: Personal pride should be Lions’ motivator

Orlando City midfielder Scott Sutter (21) is fouled by FC Dallas midfielder Pablo Aranguiz (10) during the first half at Toyota Stadium. (Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY)

Orlando City coach James O’Connor is looking for consistency during the last four matches of the season.

Throughout his short time as coach of the Lions, he’s seen decent passages of play.

During Orlando City’s 2-0 loss to FC Dallas, for example, the Lions were solid through the first half before crumbling in the second half.

With nothing left but pride – and jobs – to play for, the shorthanded Lions (7-19-4, 25 points) play the New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Gillette Stadium. 

“Your own personal pride should take over,” O’Connor said. “The fact that you’re eliminated … you should want to win every day.

“Your own pride should kick in. That should elevate everything else. My expectation is for the players to have pride in their performance like we all should take pride in our work every day. I think that’s something that we expect to see.”

O’Connor is 1-9-3 in league play at the helm of the Lions. Orlando City has given up 31 goals during those 13 matches and 19 of them have come in the second halves of those games.

“I think fitness certainly has played a part,” O’Connor said. “I think the mentality has definitely played a part. I think both of those have had a big impact on our inability to play for the full 90 minutes.”

Orlando City played New England to a 3-3 draw in August.

“I think – I keep going back to it – it comes down to, whatever New England are going to do, they’re going to do,” O’Connor said. “It comes down to our personal pride and performance and how badly do we want to really go and try and get that level of performance for 90 minutes that we’re all craving.”  

O’Connor he’s stressed consistency in training with his players and that a lack of consistency in training can come through during matches.

“I’m a big believer in that you need to train at the same level you want to play it,” O’Connor said. “I think that becomes really important. I think for some of the guys, there’s an understanding of that. For some of the other guys, they’re still trying to get that understanding.”  

Overall, since winning a franchise-record six consecutive matches, Orlando City has won just once during the past 21 MLS matches. The Lions are winless in their last 11 matches and are in last place in the Eastern Conference.

“It is definitely demoralizing, for sure,” right back Scott Sutter said. “I’ve never been in a situation like this and I think a lot of the guys in the locker room haven’t, either. I’ve never gone this long without winning, or to have 20 games with only the one win.

“It’s definitely been a tough season, I think. Especially considering how much hope we had going into the season with the squad that we had. We definitely under-performed. It’s been tough, but we know there’s always next season. There’s always the next game so we kind of need to like I said, try to finish the season off the right way, regroup in the offseason and then come out all guns blazing next year.”

There’s only one “right way” to finish out the season, Sutter said.

“That means getting wins,” Sutter said. “It’s no longer good enough to perform well like I think we did [against] Houston or like we did for 60 minutes of the game against Dallas. We just want to get wins. We just want to get points and give the fans something back that support us week-in and week-out.

“It’s all right if you’re playing and trying to get wins and you’re not getting the breaks, that’s one thing. But at some point, we just need wins. We need to get that feeling back that we’ve missed over the last few weeks.”




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